Carla O'Connor


Not all artists are gifted with the skill to teach and communicate their craft to others, but accomplished watercolorist Carla O’Connor has embraced that part of her experience in the arts. Along with being a masterful painter, she has spent the better part of her life sharing that knowledge and expertise with eager young artisans all over the world.

Beginning in her early married years as an Air Force wife, she was transplanted around the world with much frequency and made the most of it. For the next 30 years, she traveled throughout the US, Canada, and Europe, leading workshops that were eventually so sought-after, they were booked out 2 to 3 years in advance. Carla would sometimes work for multiple weeks with artists in this capacity, a true teacher at heart.

Carla’s layered color and complicated patterns became her signature style. She has worked in oil, acrylics, watercolor, and gouache, never afraid to come back to a piece weeks or months later until it decides it is done.  



Carla has been a juror for numerous national and regional groups including the American Watercolor Society, the National Watercolor Society, the Northwest Watercolor Society, the Arizona Watercolor Association; the Adirondacks International Exhibition of American Watercolors, the Federation of Canadian Artists Exhibition and, the California Watercolor Association, Watercolor Art Society – Houston and Rocky Mountain National Exhibition.  She has been a juror of selection for the 144th AWS International Exhibition in January 2011, a juror of selection for the 2010 NWS National Exhibition, and served as Chairman for the 2008 AWS awards jury.  O’Connor has been a juror for the Artist’s Magazine, Experimental Category (December 2004 issue) and for Watercolor Magic Magazine, Portrait Category in the Fall of 2005.  



O’Connor is a signature member of the American Watercolor Society, National Watercolor Society and Northwest Watercolor Society and is an AWS Dolphin Fellow. She is an honorary member of the Jiangsu Watercolor Research Institute of Nanjing, China.



-American Watercolor Society International Exhibition 2015 (Prize), 2013 (Prize), 2012, 2011 (Prize), 2010 (Prize), 2009 (Prize), 2008, 2007, 2004 (Prize), 2002 and 1999 (Prize), 1998, 1997 (Silver Medal of Honor and Traveling Exhibit), 1996, 1991 (Prize and Traveling Exhibit).

-NWWS National Exhibitions: 2014 (Prize), 2013 (Prize), 2010, 2009 (Prize), NWWS 60th Year Exhibition, Frye Art Museum, Seattle - 2000, 1999 (Prize) and 1998 (1st Place Award), 1997 (Prize), 1996 (Prize), 1995, 1994 (Prize), 1993 (1st Place Award), 1992 (1st Place Award) 

-Rocky Mountain National Watermedia Exhibition, 2012 (Prize), 2008, 1998

-Peninsula Fine Art Center, Newport News, VA Exhibition “Watercolor! “ 2007

-Invitational Exhibition of Contemporary International Watermedia Masters, Nanjing, China, 2012, 2009, 2007

-Shanghai Zhujiajiao International Watercolor Exhibition, 2010 Invited Exhibitor

-Shenzhen International Watercolor Biennial, China, 2013/2014



Carla was one of nine artists included in “Inspirations & Technical Breakthroughs: Secrets from the Contemporary International Watercolor Masters, Volume 1” (Chinese language publication by Zhou Tianya & Ruan Hoe), 2012. Her painting “The Courtesans” was included in Pratique Des Arts published in France in December 2009 and she was a featured artist in L’Art De L’Aquarelle in June, 2011. Her teaching was the focus of an article by Stephen Doherty in American Artist’s Watercolor Magazine Summer 2008 issue titled: Modern Masters: Profiles of Watercolorists Who Inspire and Inform. She was a featured artist in The Artist’s Magazine’s Summer 2005 issue and wrote for Watercolor Magic’s Studio Staples feature in August 2006. Carla also contributed to “From the Inside Out”, June, 2004 issue of Watercolor Magic Magazine and to “Launching A Workshop-Teaching Career” by Beth Patterson in the Fall 2002 issue of Watercolor Magazine. Her work was included in “When Figures Emerge” in the Winter 2001 issue of Watercolor magazine, and her article, “The Mark of Experience,” appeared in the August/September 2000 issue of International Artist Magazine. Carla’s work also  appears in “Splash5 - The Glory of Color” published by Northlight Books and “Exploring Color” and “The New Creative Artist” (2006) by Nita Leland.